Art-school grad Scott Hutchison was sick of making pictures with implements, so he tried his hand with words. He formed Scottish indie-pop band Frightened Rabbit in 2004, taking the name from his mother's description of his early school demeanor. Hutchison eventually overcame his diffidence but his songs bear its imprint, an aching, self-conscious mien reminiscent of Sebadoh's Lou Barlow.
The fine debut, Sings the Greys, mixed twee melodic warmth and slashing, ringing Wedding Present-style guitars. But the band took off in the U.S. with the follow-up, The Midnight Organ Fight, an infectious, biting break-up album. The musicians wore themselves out crisscrossing the States several times before returning home to record Frightened Rabbit's latest, The Winter of Mixed Drinks, whose tone is set by the lonely paean "Swim Until You Can't See Land."
"Nobody wants to hear about tour," Hutchison says. "So instead I wrote an album about that frame of mind -- that drifting sense, where you're a bit lost. It's so transitory you lose sight of who you are."
The band's first album with a real budget, it's lushly layered and produced -- truthfully, it's a tad fussy, something Hutchison acknowledges.
"I'm the first to admit we went completely over-the-top on a lot of these songs but we had to do it to keep moving forward," he says, cautioning not to expect a reprise on the next release. "To be honest, it'd be nice to pare it right back."
Live, Frightened Rabbit compensates for whatever the disc lacks with furiously energetic performances as engrossing as a roadside wreck.
Frightened Rabbit with Plants & Animals and The Phantom Band. 8 p.m. Tue., Nov. 2. Diesel, 1601 E. Carson St., South Side. $14 ($17 day of show). All ages. 412-481-8800 or www.dieselpgh.com
- String band: Frightened Rabbit